The Fascinating Discoveries We Made in 2018

Written by
Adam Tzur (Facebook, Twitter)

Published: January 27, 2018
Updated:
January 27, 2018


Discoveries, Researchers, Sci-Fit 2018

Summary

What You Will Learn

  • Understand how Sci-Fit works and how you benefit
  • Read and view our discoveries about the ketogenic diet
  • Discover which topic is on our horizon after we finish analyzing the ketogenic diet

Sci-Fit’s Evolution in 2018

Hello, everyone! My name is Adam Tzur and I am the owner of Sci-Fit. I started the site in 2016.

Since its inception, Sci-Fit has evolved into a comprehensive system.

Our review articles are now vetted by scientists and analysts. Our reviews are now systematic reviews, meaning that we comprehensively search the scientific literature to find data. We also publish study collections of our literature searches, so everyone benefits.

Our latest articles now contain methodology sections which explain how we find and work with data.

Finally, more and more contributors, reviewers, and data analysts join us in our goal towards higher productivity.

You benefit by getting free access to our analyses and conclusions. We add plain language summaries to our articles. This way, you can understand complex topics.

2018 – The Year of Keto

In 2018, we published 11 articles, and most of them were about the ketogenic diet. One of our goals at Sci-Fit is to produce novel, data-based analyses. By doing this, we reach new conclusions and progress the field we work in.

What did we discover about the ketogenic diet in 2018?

  • On average, the ketogenic diet helps people feel less hungry and eat fewer calories.
  • On average, the ketogenic diet is hard to stick to in the long-term. This isn’t exclusive to keto, because people struggle adhering to all diets.
  • Ketogenic supplements are not worth your money, yet. Studies have found few benefits, yet this area of research is new and promising.
  • We did a novel, critical investigation of the ketogenic industry and scientists. Check it out if you’re interested in conflicts of interest.
  • It has long been said that you need to eat a low-to-moderate protein diet if you want to be in ketosis. However, we found that participants can be in ketosis even on high protein diets.
  • We challenge the idea that people need <50 g of carbohydrates to stay in ketosis. In fact, people have been in ketosis in the 60-82 g/d range.
  • We coined a new term: Keto Flush happens when your body loses salt, water, and glycogen during the first weeks of the ketogenic diet. 1This concept has been known for a while in the ketogenic community, yet it has not been given a name. Our article discusses the scientific aspects and implications of keto flush

Infographics of 2018

Spontaneous calorie reduction on the ketogenic diet

Bringing our momentum into 2019

You may wonder why we have dedicated so much time to the ketogenic diet. The reason is simple: at Sci-Fit we deal with one main topic at a time. In the years 2017 to 2019, we focus on the ketogenic diet.

In 2019, we have some upcoming articles for keto. The next analysis will answer which side effects people experience on the ketogenic diet. We will also compare the side effects to control diets, to see if there are differences. We are doing this novel analysis because it has not yet been done in the literature.

Finally, we will round up our entire ketogenic series with a comprehensive summary article.

After we have finished the ketogenic summary, we set our sights on fasting. Yes, we will do an entire article series on fasting, including intermittent fasting. We do not yet know how long this series will take, or how many hours we must invest. What we do know is that we will systematically and comprehensively answer the questions of fasting.

Sci-Fit’s Evolution in 2018

Articles published in 2018

2018 has been a productive year for Sci-Fit. We published 4 reviews, 3 study collections, 2 analyses, and 2 interviews! It is hard to estimate how many hours of work we put into creating this content. As an example, our article on ketogenic adherence took ~6 months to finish with a team of 4 authors, 4 contributors, and 6 reviewers!

PublicationsTypeDate
Science Spotlight: Alex Leaf InterviewJanuary 2, 2018
How Keto Scientists Connect to Keto Companies (a critical investigation)AnalysisJanuary 16, 2018
How the Ketogenic Diet Affects Hunger (Research Review) ReviewMarch 14, 2018
Creatine Research – A Collection of 230+ Studies Study CollectionMay 27, 2018
Exogenous Ketones – Worth Buying? Scientific Recommendations ReviewMay 30, 2018
Science Spotlight: Grant TinsleyInterviewJune 6, 2018
Cold Water Immersion – A Collection of 240+ StudiesStudy CollectionJuly 19, 2018
Keto Flush – How Body Water and Glycogen Affect Ketogenic Weight LossAnalysisAugust 1, 2018
Drop Set Study CollectionStudy CollectionAugust 21, 2018
Adhering to the Ketogenic Diet – Is it Easy or Hard? (Research Review)ReviewNovember 27, 2018
The Drop Set – Scientific Review and Practical AdviceReviewDecember 30, 2018

Publications vetted by scientists & authors

A growing number of researchers, authors, and analysts join and contribute to our projects. We make it a priority to invite researchers and authors from various backgrounds. They provide unique insights and new perspectives to our work. We do this to avoid in-group bias and to be neutral.

In 2018, we have had an influx of scientists who have contributed by reviewing our articles:

Stephan Guyenet

Stephan Guyenet sci-fit.net

Guyenet has deep insights into many topics. Some of them include energy balance, weight loss, research methodology, and the ketogenic diet. He reviewed our latest keto article on diet adherence. Guyenet has an exciting debate coming up with Gary Taubes on Joe Rogan’s podcast, in March 2019.

Kevin Hall

Hall is a Senior Investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. In his previous research, he has made excellent contributions to our knowledge about the ketogenic diet. The choice to invite him to review our ketogenic adherence article was crystal clear.

Eric Trexler

Trexler has many research interests, and at the time of writing he has contributed to 60 scientific publications. He has great expertise on strength training, bodybuilding, and nutrition. Stronger by Science recently hired him as a Director of Education.

Brianna Stubbs

Stubbs is a former athlete, researcher, and currently works as Research Lead for HVMN. This means that she has both the experience and the theoretical underpinnings to provide crucial insight. She has reviewed our articles on exogenous ketones and ketogenic adherence.

 

Ketogains

Luis and Tyler are highly knowledgeable of the ketogenic diet. Their coaching practice has given them a unique and helpful perspective which they use to critically review our claims.

Luis Villasenor

Luis-Villasenor sci-fit.net

Tyler Cartwright

Tyler Cartwright sci-fit.net

 

Optimising Nutrition

Marty Kendall

Marty Kendall sci-fit.net

On his site, Marty uses a numerical approach to keto, satiety, and other factors. His insight into nutrition is valuable and helpful.

Improving our methodology

Since Sci-Fit started in 2016, we have made major changes to how we work. Our work has always been focused on the scientific literature, but here are some recent changes:

1. All our review articles are now systematic reviews

A systematic review aims to identify and analyze “all relevant studies on a particular topic” (Uman, 2011). We use systematic reviews to minimize bias (Uman, 2011). If we didn’t use a systematic approach to finding studies, we would be at higher risk of selection bias (Pae, 2015). This is also why we never draw conclusions from single studies.

We start our reviews by doing a systematic literature search of multiple databases. We then publish the studies we find in separate study collections.

We exclude and include relevant studies, and then extract relevant data from them. To maximize rigour, we double extract the data. This means that two or more data workers extract the exact same data into different sheets. This increases our accuracy.

After the extraction, we analyze and graph the data. When done, we start writing the article using the data we have. This is just a brief summary of our process which is much more complex.

2. We are transparent about our process and methods

We now include a methodology section in our articles. In the future, we will publish a dedicated methodology article that discusses our approach in-depth.

3. Our rigorous approach takes time

Our review articles typically take 3-6 months to finish.

4. Combining different viewpoints

One of our main values is to minimize bias and approach the scientific literature with a neutral perspective. Completely eliminating bias is impossible, but we do everything we can. One of our aims is therefore to invite scientists from all parts of the literature. A great example of this is our ketogenic diet series, which has a healthy variety of skilled reviewers.

2018 – The Year of Keto

Here at Sci-Fit, we write article series. First, we choose a topic or field to write about. Then, we write a whole series of articles that cover the field comprehensively. In the years 2017-2019, we set our aims for the ketogenic diet. Here is what we have discovered thus far.

Coining a new term: Keto Flush

The keto community knows that when you first start the ketogenic diet, you experience the keto flu. It’s when you feel various side effects during the first weeks or months of the diets.

Keto flush could be one of the reasons for keto flu. In the first weeks of the ketogenic diet, your body loses salt, water and glycogen. This dehydrates your body and you lose “wet” weight. You can partially prevent keto flush by:

  • Getting extra electrolytes such as salt
  • Drinking more water
  • Taking creatine
  • Habituating to the diet (over time)
  • Doing resistance training

The article has done quite well, and is now the first search result on Google:

Google keto flush sci-fit

The ketogenic diet curbs hunger

People naturally eat fewer calories on the ketogenic diet, without being asked to:

This is probably because the ketogenic diet is satiating. In fact, we discovered that keto study participants report less hunger than control diets. This is perhaps one of the biggest strengths of the diet.

Spontaneous calorie reduction on the ketogenic diet

Sticking with any diet is difficult

The good news is that people feel less hungry on keto. The bad news is that the diet is hard to stick to. Note that this is a statistical generalization and does not apply to everyone. In other words, it is true on average.

The graph below shows how ketone levels change over time for keto study participants. Each line represents a group of participants. In the long-term, they struggled to maintain ketosis (0.5 mmol/L).

BHB adherence keto sci-fit

Yet, this is not unique to keto, because most people struggle with adherence to all diets.

Our analysis is novel, and you can read it in-depth in our full article. A group of excellent reviewers contributed to the project: Brianna Stubbs, Kevin Hall, Tyler Cartwright, Luis Villasenor, Stephan Guyenet and Marty Kendall. They provided critical insight into the process.

Ketogenic supplements: worth the price?

Ketogenic supplements are also known as exogenous ketones. They have often been said to improve athletic performance, burn fat, improve mood, and so on. We found little to no support for these claims in our analysis of ketone studies.

Still, this emerging area of research is new and fascinating. Exogenous ketones may hold promise, and we need more research.

Sci-fit Exogenous ketones summary table 1000x747 tinified

A critical look at the scientists in the keto industry

2018 started with a bang, as we took a deep dive into the keto industry. Transparency and scientific integrity is very important to Sci-Fit, hence we wanted to identify how closely the industry follows these values. Indeed, this was the first critical investigation of the keto industry.

In summary, we discovered that there are conflicts of interest in keto research (image below). Some researchers are very prolific and own keto businesses, sell keto books, and are funded by the industry.

Keto Scientists and companies investigated

After the article was published, some people said that scientists with conflicts of interest are corrupt. Some also said that the ketogenic literature as a whole is corrupt. In our analysis, we found no such thing. We would in fact encourage everyone to critically engage with several factors:

  • The study methodology
  • How the study connects to the rest of the literature (is it an outlier?)
  • The author backgrounds (business interests, personal opinions, values)
  • Funding sources
  • How the data was analyzed and interpreted by the authors

In other words, it’s not just a single conflict of interest that determines whether a study is worthwhile or not. Or whether a scientist is corrupt or not.

Yet, we do use extra caution when scientists have multiple conflicts of interest, and do not disclose them.

Protein does not seem to prevent ketosis

This article was actually published in 2017, but we still snuck it in here because it’s an important finding.

We often hear that, with keto, you need to restrict how much protein you eat. The number varies. Some say 100 grams per day is maximum, some say 15% of your total caloric intake. Regardless, we didn’t find support for this in the literature. To the contrary, protein does not seem to prevent ketosis at all:

Instead, we propose that protein might affect the depth of ketosis. In other words, if someone wants to achieve high blood ketone concentrations, maybe protein restriction can help? This has typically been the approach for the classical ketogenic diet as used for treating epilepsy. Still, we are not aware of any studies that directly compare ketogenic diets with different protein intakes that also measures BHB levels.

What’s Coming in 2019?

Bringing our momentum into 2019

Finishing up the ketogenic diet series

We have worked on the ketogenic diet since 2017, and it is time to wrap up our main series. We have one major analysis left:

  • Which side effects do people experience on the ketogenic diet, and how do they compare to control diets?

This project is currently ongoing. We have just finished our systematic literature search, and are now in the process of extracting data. Once the article is finished, we will write a comprehensive summary piece that encompasses everything we’ve learned about the ketogenic diet.

We do not known when these articles will be ready for publication. Sign up to the newsletter to be notified.

Cluster sets

This is a follow-up to our recent article on drop sets. We will analyze how cluster sets affect strength, power, muscle endurance, and fatigue. We are currently finishing up data extraction and will soon begin data analysis.

Fasting

We want to announce that fasting is the next major topic for Sci-Fit. When we finish the ketogenic diet, we will do an entire article series on fasting, including intermittent fasting. This is very exciting for us, as we expand into new fields.

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